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Taming the Oclait (NAU Expansion RP)


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Kassel, Hodrea April 3rd, 2015

 

“What?” Kieron said looking up at Nicole. There were several other boys there all gathered for his birthday. The small party had started at his small home in the city before his parents had gotten home, but he knew it was ok, his parents told him they’d be late.

He was going to be fourteen.

He yelled out and ran, bursting through the front door of his parents flat in the terraced house the lived in. Nicole called out to him, but he was already out the door, not that he would have listened anyway. He rushed down the old stairs and burst onto the dingy street their home in Kassel was on.

He just stopped. He couldn’t believe what he heard, it couldn’t be possible. Where is he even running to?

Behind him two other boys rushed out with him trying to catch up. They both stood a few feet from Kieron as he turned around and started weeping.

“Kieron! W-What happened!?” One of the boys said, approaching him, clearly deeply concerned at his friend’s sudden turn of emotion. He was a lanky teenager, with unique red hair that had always stood out in the Ceriser city.

The other boy, not quite as tall and sporting more common brown hair scowled, “Did one of those other idiots do something to you? Wen muss ich treffen!?”

“Daniel…” Kieron said through his tears, addressing the red headed boy “Aunt Nicole… she told me my parents…”

Kieron couldn’t keep talking as he hid his face behind his hands, still crying. Daniel looked on in shock while the other boy turned to Daniel confused.

“What does he mean!?” The boy asked Daniel in a demanding tone.

“Karl…” Daniel started before leaning in and whispering in his ear. Karl’s eyes grew wide and scowl disappeared.

Daniel rushed forward after whispering to Karl, embracing Kieron who promptly buried his face in his friend’s shoulder. Recovering from the shock of what he was just told, Karl joined Daniel holding the bereaved boy.

Nicole had followed the trio out watched with sorrow as the boys held each other. She wiped her own eyes and let out a sigh as she tried to gather herself to figure out what to do next.


Liechnenfax, Hodrea July 15th, 2023

Kieron had spent the entirety of the trip gawking at the Hodrean capital. He remembered it all too well as a child and it had never looked so amazing. Though his enthusiasm for the city was slightly dampened knowing the horrible cost that had been inflicted on his people in order to get to this point. Regardless, it was nice to finally be home and to see it growing from the ashes.

Over the past four years the entire country had been in a feverish obsession with reconstruction. The enticing lure of Ceriser unification underneath the North Adlantic Union had been the perfect catalyst for almost a sort of renaissance of Hodrean culture and growth. Before the war, even a famous Xioan civic planner and architect had made the move to the country, deeply moved by their plight, and had been prominent in helping build the planning for a truly modern city. Of course, Liechnenfax hadn’t been mystically fixed overnight, and the people weren’t exactly swimming in pools of wealth, but just being here now felt so much better than he remembered years ago.

The four of them had been summoned by the Hodrean government to the capital, and even though Kieron wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, it had to be major. His car stopped in front of the new State Building, a beautiful blend of modern Xioan, Dolch, and Seylosian architecture standing tall amongst the newly constructed quarters of the city. He opened the car door and stepped out looking at the building and was promptly joined by Oswin, who had ridden in the car with him.

“Well… I guess this is a lot better than having to save another head of state right?” Oswin said, glancing at him and giving a smile.

“Another? How many heads of state have we saved?” Kieron asked, raising his eyebrow.

Oswin shrugged and laughed, “Well just the one, but still that’s more saving than most people do. Come on, they want us to get up there.”

The pair were shepherded up the stairs to the State Building by several guards and were eventually joined by Maura and Tirodates who had been taken in a separate car.

“What the hell is with all this extra security?” Maura asked, looking around her, confused on why a small Seylosian special forces team was getting such special treatment.

Kieron suddenly looked a lot more anxious before sputtering out, “It’s… because of me…”

Tiradates finally spoke up after taking in the spectacle, “You?”

“I’m… a bit of a celebrity I guess… and a target in Hodrea.” Kieron said, going quiet as they reached the doors of the building. The group was quickly ushered in.

“Our boy is a celebrity Maura, you hear that?” Oswin said, a big grin on his face.

“Mmmm…” Kieron grumbled, looking incredibly awkward as several of the State Building staff looked on.

“He’s honored by his people for defeating their greatest enemy,” Tirodates said, with his usual straight face, “I can only hope I could accomplish the same with the Empress of the Haruspex.”

“I don’t think we’ll be taking her down anytime soon Tir, also you remember we were all there for that right?” Maura replied as they were guided through the building’s halls, passing through a few well guarded security checkpoints.

“Perhaps… perhaps not,” Tiradates replied.

Eventually the four were stopped in front of a pair of ornate double doors where they were asked to wait for a moment. Though quickly enough the doors were opened revealing several Hodrean officials in a meeting room who stood to greet them.

There were two men in the group saluted upon their entry with the other four, three women and another man giving a courteous nod toward them as they walked in. The man walked towards them and extended his hand to Kieron, “Mr. Bretz… Derren Werner.”

Kieron paused and cautiously took the man’s hand, “Um, Mr. President… why… are we here?”

Oswin, Maura, and Tiradates looked on as the President of Hodrea greeted Kieron with almost a certain reverence before turning to look at all of them, “I’m sorry the details of this meeting were vague, but we wanted to make sure that everything that had been planned up until this point was kept classified. We asked for representatives from the Seylosian military who had been involved in the war… and I’m not ashamed enough to say I asked for you four specifically.”

President Werner extended his hand, gesturing at the seats at the table that had been left open for the four. Each of them took a seat before Werner continued, “I suppose we should just get on with it, we’ve asked Mr. Bretz here because of his connection with Kassel.”

Kieron froze when he heard his hometown’s name. The first major Sentist assault in Hodrea, and the first site of major destruction the Sentists had inflicted upon Ceris.

“What about Kassel, Mr. President?” Maura asked, seeing the expression on Kieron’s face.

“Mr. Bretz… we’ve received information from an informant within the Wolf’s territory in the Oclait… one who has made very specific claims regarding a large quantity of survivors taken from Kassel at the beginning of the war and relocated to work camps within the territory. We were hoping you’d be able to confirm his identity.”

“Survivors? From… Kassel?” Kieron’s eyes went wide, “H-How many?”

Werner sat for a moment and looked at the other officials in the room before turning his attention back to Kieron, “Around ten thousand. The information in question has them having been abducted and forced into work in the Oclait, and with the end of the war and hostilities still remaining in the territory.”

“Ten… THOUSAND!?” Kieron almost yells, standing up looking shocked at Werner.

“Kieron, sit down!” Maura hissed at him. Kieron closed his eyes and took control of himself, sitting back down.

President Werner raised his hand at Maura, “It’s quite alright. We weren’t sure this information was even valid. But, I’d like to be candid. Information from this informant has been driving the largest military buildup we’ve conducted since the war. We’ve been able to confirm many of the details, that people from Kassel were taken and eventually smuggled back to Hodrea.”

“Military buildup?” Tiradates asked, “Are you suggesting military action within the Oclait?”

Werner looked between all four of them, “Not just a military action, the Hodrean Republic is planning a full invasion of the Oclait territory. With assistance from certain factions under Commandant Wolf’s control. The last vestiges of the Northern Sentist threat will be extinguished. They have taken more than just ten thousand people from our country and hidden them there. By all our estimates… there could be over a hundred thousand Hodreans held in work camps throughout the Oclait.”

“Good lord…” Oswin said, “That many?”

Werner nodded, “While I apologize for the confusion you must all have right now, we’ve kept in regular contact with the North Adlantic Union Defense Command on this matter. Of course for the moment, Hodrea is not part of the Union, and your presence here is considered a courtesy. As well as… a form of monitoring for additional support the Union has offered to liberate these camps.”

Werner looks at Kieron, “And… for someone like Mr. Bretz… I wanted to ensure that he was present. Not only to confirm the identity of the informant in question, but as a debt paid from this nation to himself.”

Kieron sat silently, taking the whole thing in, ignoring the reverence from the Hodrean President “Just… show me then.”

One of the military men stood up, “Mr. Bretz… I’m Lieutenant Colonel Hayden Eckhardt, from the Rangers.”

Ekhardt took a moment messing with his laptop before an image appeared on the screen. It showed people being shoved into some sort of old military truck, but with a face in the rearview mirror of the car the picture was being taken from. Kieron could barely hold back his shock.

“Our informant was luckily a bit careless with his photography, and we managed to get a view of his face-”

“K-Karl…” He almost whispered.

“Karl Plagge?” Ekhardt asked.

Kieron nodded. It was one of his old best friends taking that picture. And he knew he had to be there for this.

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Kassel, Hodrea July 22nd 2018

Daniel rushed down the stairs of Nicole’s flat and saw her in the kitchen as she was preparing some snacks for the boys in Kieron’s room. He ran up to her with an exasperated look on his face.

“Ms. Bretz, do you have any tools I can use?”

Nicole raised an eyebrow and turned her attention to the boy, “Why in the world would you need any of my tools?”

“Well me, Kieron, and Karl are trying to listen in on the  Seylosian coronation.” Daniel said with a beaming smile.

“How are any of my tools supposed to help with that? The government put a media blackout quite awhile ago kid.” Nicole responded. There had been an increase in fighting throughout the south of the country and in true authoritarian fashion, much of Hodrea’s internet and media connections had been severed both inside and from outside. Of course, Nicole herself had her own connections that let her have a continuing glimpse of overall Ceriser politics.

“Yes, but me and Kieron went out to Mr. Rainer’s shop down the road and he had this really big old antenna and Kieron thinks he knows how to get it setup for our radio.”

“Well I hope Mr. Rainer didn’t overcharge you. Er ist ein betrüger.”

Daniel gave a nervous smile and scratched the back of his head, “O-Oh it was no problem, I paid for it just fine.”

Nicole walked over to a door on the opposite side of the kitchen which led to the tiny garage connected to the flat, “You did that for Kieron?”

Daniel followed her inside as she turned on the light and started rooting around in a toolbox, “Well… he really wanted to find out…”

“Ah, I see.” Nicole replied with a chuckle, turning the toolbox towards Daniel, “Take anything you need.”

“Thanks Ms. Bretz,” Daniel replied, taking his turn at looking for what he needed.

Nicole sighed and crossed her arms. She had been watching Kieron and his friends for some time. They were inseparable, something that she was actually quite grateful for. Kieron had always been quiet, and had a difficult time with people he didn’t consider close. He didn’t have any other friends than these two, but at least they protected him out there. Especially Karl, who more than once had showed up after school or a day out with cuts and bruises after fighting with people who enjoyed picking on Kieron.

“Daniel… have you ever considered telling Kieron how you feel?”

The boy froze and looked up at Nicole with wide eyes, “W-What are you talking about Ms. Bretz.”

“I’m not blind, I know he means more to you than you let on,” Nicole replied with a wry smile. “It’s fine kid.”

Daniel turned his face away in embarrassment, not expecting Nicole to have noticed, “I don’t know if he’d… you know… feel that way. He’s never expressed anything you know?”

Nicole shrugged, “I don’t know either, but if he’s feeling anything it’s hard for him to say it.”

“He… doesn’t talk to you?”

“Ha!” Nicole’s laughter boomed out, “Kieron, talk to me? We might be family, but he’s as closed a book as you can get. Little pieces come out here and there, but he has always held his feelings close.”

“HEY WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK UP HERE, MY HANDS ARE GETTING TIRED!” A loud voice yelled from outside the door, undoubtedly Karl’s.

“Oh um, I should get back up there you know?” Daniel said hurriedly and grabbed the tools he came down for.

“Hey,” Nicole said, just as Daniel was about to run out the door, “Just think about what I said ok?”

“Oh, um yeah… I will. Thanks Ms. Bretz.”


—---------

Highway 12 en route to Oclait border, Hodrea, July 17th, 2023

The offensive had hit Wolf’s Sentists hard. Their bout of combat with the Ivericans had left them militarily drained, and with no real legitimate means to restore what they had lost, they had scant little to defend themselves with besides bodies. What Hodrea hadn’t realized, and what even the vast majority of Oclait warlords didn’t know either, was that almost every single number that had been reported to them was a lie. A lie that went so deep that only the top few around Wolf had ever known the truth.

Kieron was riding in a Hodrean military vehicle with Major Eckhardt as they made their way to a border base to follow along with the offensive. He was deeply invested in reading various reports on the tablet he had brought with him, occasionally taking the time to fidget with a small drone he had brought along as well. Eckhardt observed him occasionally with interest, a part of him trying to marry the image of the young Hodrean man who had helped capture the Sentist High Priest, and the reality of this reserved, quiet boy who sat beside him.

“Are you seeing anything interesting in those reports?” Eckhardt asked, hoping to strike up some form of conversation.

“Yes,” Kieron replied, not further elaborating on why any of it was interesting.

Eckhardt sighed, “Perhaps… you would like to shed some light on what you are reading about?”

Kieron looked up, his somewhat vacant expression revealing little. After his small outburst back in Liechnenfax, Kieron had reverted to his normal self and showed little emotion, generally not engaging in conversation unless it was with his teammates. “Well… after seeing the reports of initial contact, I’d say Oclait is virtually empty.”

“Empty?” Eckhardt was surprised Kieron would jump to that conclusion after just a few initial reports from engagements across the border, “Our people haven’t come to that conclusion quite yet, why do you say that?”

“Every Sentist division that’s been engaged has been seen as being at less than half strength. But you and I both know the Sentists have no problem pressing anyone into military service, even if there are no weapons going around.” Kieron said, turning his attention back to the tablet and swiping through pages on the reports, “In fact we can see lots of soldiers that were sent out with no weapons already. And here, both the 4th and 16th Battalions reported moving into border villages that had no people in them.”

Eckhardt hadn’t managed to get caught up in the reports quite yet since he had to be in Liechnenfax and blinked in confusion, “What if those villages were just evacuated?”

Kieron glanced up again with the same expressionless gaze, “You think the Sentists would care to perform evacuations?”

No, Ekhardt thought to himself, they definitely wouldn’t.

“The Ivericans had plenty of intelligence on them before Hodrea invaded,” Kieron continued, “They noted much stronger resistance than Hodrea is currently experiencing, and most importantly more people. There hasn’t been a census in Oclait in decades and we don’t have a clear picture on the population. But my guess is it’s been severely depopulated.”

“So the work camps with our people in them, that’s why they are so important?” Ekhardt asked, remembering that most of Wolf’s paltry defenses seemed to be concentrated around the cities that house the massive work camps filled with abducted Hodrean citizens.

“It’s their only means of production these days I suspect. Taking them would effectively end the Sentist threat, I don’t think they have a production base outside of it. It was all bound to collapse regardless if they’ve gotten to the point where they have to force people to work at the barrel of a gun.” Kieron finished, his attention going back to his tablet.

Ekhardt nodded, thinking over the situation. If this was confirmed by Hodrean intelligence it would be huge. And make taking Oclait vastly easier than before. Hodrean forces had entered the territory very cautiously expecting more resistance, instead they had been met with mostly mass surrenders and panicked Sentist divisions retreating back to the work camp cities.

“Much of our intelligence came from people that had escaped from their camps, thanks to your friend Karl. On top of that we’ve had ‘military’ defectors as well giving us some insight. I’m guessing everything they brought back was a lie?”

Kieron's face showed a moment of concern when he heard Karl’s name, before losing its expression again, “Most likely they didn’t lie to you. Assuming I’m correct. My guess is that not even their top military leaders even understand the situation. Most likely they’ve been given nonsensical orders to make it seem like they have more than they do, and they don’t question them lest they get a bullet to the head.”

“For the longest time we assumed they had been using Oclait’s extensive tree cover to hide their movements and numbers, but perhaps they weren’t,” Eckhardt mused. He supposed it should have been another sign Kieron was right. Oclait was one of the few areas of Ceris that had lush and deep tree cover, though luckily for Hodrea nothing like a jungle. Hodrea had gotten so bad with deforestation that only the deep southern redwoods that lived on the Sentist State border had survived and there had been a mass reforestation campaign over the past five years. Compared to the rest of Ceris, if there were truly so few people and little industrial capability, the answer was in the trees.

Kieron simply nodded and continued going through the information on his tablet.

“You're worried about your friend?” Eckhardt asked.

Kieron’s eyes snapped up to the Major, “Of course I am. And I’m going to get him back.”

Eckhardt was taken aback by this emotional display, akin to what he had seen back in Liechnenfax, “Don’t worry junge, we’ll get him back.”

Eckhardt’s phone rang and pulled it out of his pocket, annoying Kieron as Ekhardt was the one who was driving. He answered the phone and after a few moments all the color drained from his face.

“What?” Kieron asked.

“The… The High Priest. The militia had a convoy moving away from his border detention facility back to Liechnenfax… It was ambushed…”

Kieron’s face turned to pure anger, “What happened!?”

“He’s gone… he’s escaped!” Eckhardt said angrily, slamming his free hand on the steering wheel.

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